Beware : spoiler 🙂
There were a number of great novels penned during the Victorian Era, but perhaps none more enduring than Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece Jane Eyre. Countless publishers and newspapers have listed Jane Eyre among the greatest novels of all-time.
Published in 1847 in London, this emotionally charged novel dramatically detailed the life of a young girl as she struggles through the hardship of trying to make a living against seemingly unsurmountable odds.
It’s no secret that readers love underdog stories, and Jane Eyre is no exception to the rule.
When the novel begins, she has already lost her parents to typhus, and suffered poor treatment at the hands of her aunt. To make matters worse, Jane is eventually shipped off to Lowood School, where conditions are similar to a modern day sweat shop. Eventually Jane’s fortunes change, but not before witnessing her best friend at the school die of the exact same illness that took her parents.
As Jane grows older and attempts to find her way, two men fall in love with her.
One such man is St. John, a pious man who wishes Jane to accompany him on a mission trip to India.
Mr. Rochester, who at first seems like the furthest thing from a suitable husband, eventually wins her over. It is in his home that Jane finds herself living as a Governess to a young French girl. Jane is content with her position in the magnificent Thornfield Hall, but mysterious occurrences make her uneasy.
Soon, as the mysteries unravel, readers begin to understand the complexity of Jane, and even relate to her. Unlike Jane Austen’s novels, where marriage provides the reader with a happily ever after conclusion, the story of Jane Eyre is far from over at this point.
There are dark secrets in the world that Jane has entered, and her naivety fails to protect her from them as they are brought into the light.
Often named among the greatest Gothic novels of all time. Jane Eyre weaves Gothic elements throughout the narrative. The school that ten year old Jane is placed in at the beginning of the story is horrifying. From the gloomy setting of Rochester’s Thornfield Hall, to a mysterious connection between Rochester and Jane, there are supernatural aspects of this tale that drive at the heart of human emotion.
As Jane tells her story, we feel the depth of her feelings, and both male and female readers come away with greater insight into the human condition. The universal theme of love for a companion and love for family is exposed in this complex and intellectually stimulating tale.
Therefore, I love this novel because it has all that we look for in a story.
For those who love romance with the cute and sweet “I love you” line , we have Jane and Mr. Rochester.
For those who love the underdog, Jane comes from nothing and finds herself in considerably positive conditions, at least for a while.
And for those who love a well-written work of literature, complete with accurate references to a time period often romanticized, look no further than Jane Eyre.